Conditioning Rats


Syllabus: Top


Class Schedule

Lab Schedules



PSY 337 Learning


All changes to the syllabus will be printed in red.

Course Information Instructor Information
Text: Learning, 7th edition, Klein
          Other readings are listed on the schedule
Instructor: John H. Krantz, Ph.D.
Office: SC 151
Phone: 7316
Meeting Times:
     Class: M W F 9:20-10:30 AM
     Lab:    R 8:00 - 11:45 PM
Room: Class: SCC 131; Lab: SCC 127
Check here for my calendar
Class Webpage: Text Website:


Office Hours:
M: 1:30-2:30 pm
T: 9-10 am
W: 4-5 pm
Th: 1:30-2:30 pm
Others by appointment 


Course Objectives

What is learning? How do we learn? How is it different from that other course we teach here called Cognition (PSY 333)? These are the topics of this course. Briefly learning is the acquisition of new behaviors as a results of experiences in the environment. We will develop this definition further in the class. This course will examine the discoveries and applications from this area of psychology. In many ways these discoveries form the foundation of much of our other knowledge in psychology. We will also take a look at the controversies that have arisen as a result of how this knowledge has been interpreted. Much, but not all, of the material in this course is grounded in the behaviorist tradition so we will have to examine the implications and range of ideas that the term behaviorist encompasses. This grounding of a set of findings in a tradition that makes many of us uncomfortable in its implications will give us a good opportunity to examine the nature of theory and the relationship between theory and data. 

Major Objectives

This course is an upper level course and an upper level lab course in the psychology major.  Thus, in this course there are several specific objectives that relate to the position of this course in the major.  As you advance, we hope to give the psychology major is designed more ownership over your education.  This objective is reflected in several ways in this course.  First, like all 300 level courses you will be required to design and conduct your own project.  Secondly, you will find a greater emphasis on primary literature.  Thirdly, you will take greater leadership in the course leading some discussions.

Liberal Arts Objectives

This course also is being taught at Hanover College.  When you graduate you will be given a degree: the Bachelor of Arts.  You do not get a degree in Psychology.  You only get a major in Psychology.  The difference is that we believe, or at least hope, that all students leaving this school have attained something that is common to all students.  We hope you are educated, at least foundationally.  Towards that end, all courses need to help develop skills needed by an educated person.  These include analytical thinking, evaluation of evidence, development of new ideas and the testing for these ideas, and the articulate dissemination of our learning.  These skills are crucial to all facets of your life, your careers included.  Thus, this course will require discussion of the material in the class, oral presentations, independent research, and writing.

Class Schedule






Chapters 1


Traditional Learning Theories

Chapter 2
Watson (1913)
Control Systems Theory


The Modification of Instictive Behaviors

Chapter 3


Principles and Applications of Pavlovian Conditioning

Chapter 4
Rescorla-Wagner Illustration

Tutorials on Classical Conditioning Topics


Theories of Pavlovian Conditioning

Chapter 5

Rescorla-Wagner Model of Classical Conditioning


Principles and Applications of Appetative Conditioning

Chapter 6


Journal Article Presentation  Chapter 6 (Test 1 on Friday if in class)


Principles and Applications of Aversive Conditioning Chapter 7


Theories of Appetitive and Aversive Conditioning

Chapter 8



MONDAY: Preview Rest of Course/Finish Theories of Appetitive and Aversive Conditioning

Biological Influence on Learning

Chapter 9


Stimulus Control

Hannah Wilson will Present Rawson (1973) on Friday

Chapter 10


Cognitive Control of Behavior

Mayavellie Bochas will present Butler et al. (2006) on Friday
Chapter 11


Motor Skills Materials to be Provided


Comprehensive Final



Lab Schedule

Lab Number



1 Introduction to lab and Review of APA Style


Comparing Schedules APA style paper
3 Chaining APA style paper


Final Project  (should start as soon as possible)
No final paper
Still Final Presentation, see below

Demonstration and APA Paper


Assignments and Exams


Exams are all essay and comprehensive.  They will ask you to critically examine the issues discussed to that point in the course and to draw from multiple areas that we have covered to reach a conclusion.  There will be two exams, a mid-term and a final.  The final will be a take home, of a sort, and open book. 

Journal Discussion

As this is an advanced course, one of the tasks you will be given will be to lead a discussion and critique of one or more journal articles. Critiquing a journal article is one of the basic skills required of an educated person. Being able to evaluate another person's claim is key to being able to think independently and not have to follow along after experts. As such, this class will required you to demonstrate this ability.  It is also an ability you will be asked to demonstrate on your comprehensive examination in psychology. Read more about this assignment here.


Applied Journal Article

In addition to the research journal article, you will be asked to present an article the presents or discusses a clinical application of one of the topics of the course. There have been many applications and we cannot discover them all, but it is worthwhile to view of this course material has been applied to clinical issues. Go here for more about this assignmentSee the class schedule above for the dates of the last article presentations.


Labs and Lab Write Ups

Part of the purpose of the 300 level class in the psychology major is to expose you to different research methodologies.  In Social Psychology you learn group testing methods, in Adulthood and Aging you learn qualitative methods; and Cognition, you learn repeated measure designs.  Much of the field  Learning is also dominated by a unique methodology, the single subject design.  This method is somewhat similar to what is done in Sensation and Perception, for those of you who took that class.  So these labs will work to teach you how to use individual subjects to conduct complete experiments and reach sound conclusions.  We will complete two, but I am not sure if we will have a chance to do three before you need to concentrate on your final project.

The lab reports will be written according to APA format including all sections (abstract, introduction, method, results, discussion, references, etc.).  You are expected, since you have had research methods, to be familiar with APA format.  What you have forgotten you can look up in books in the library.  I am very serious about this.  On  your labs your will received two grades, one for the content, one for following the format.  The final grade is the average of the two grades.  Any error will lead to an automatic F on the format portion of the grade, but the paper can be resubmitted for format errors but with no higher a grade than a C on that portion of the grade.  So this part of the grade should be easy to get an A on.  Let us see how much you can impress me.

Final Lab Project

Oh well, this had turned flat.  Just as you were all getting started and I really was looking forward to your projects.  Okay, this is what I propose and I am willing to discuss options. I would like to turn this from a paper to a presentation. The presentation will have two parts: 1) a discussion of the trick that you were going to do, including a discussion, in detail, of your approach to getting the rat to learn the trick. Part of the presentation should be a clear diagram of the trick and a discussion of how far you were along an any problems you had face.  2) find an animal trick video online. The trick should have multiple steps and not be a simple trick.  I want you to show the trick and discuss how you think the trainer approached the training.  You need to share the video with me to get approval and it is first come first served.


Each assignment will be weighted as follows to determine the final grade:
Test 1 10%
Final Exam 20%
Lab Report 1 10%
Lab Report 2 10%
Applied Journal Discussion 10%
Journal Discussion 10%
Final Presentation 5% Now 15%
Final Project Paper 15% Now 0%
Participation 10%

 I am short 5% so I will take the grades out of 95% to spread the last 5% across all of the grades.